Saturday, May 31, 2008

An Open Letter to the Vandals of Readyville Mill


All these years of waiting. Most of us thought it would never happen. We visualized the old mill rotting and crumbling into the Stones River like so many before it, only a memory and some brief notes in a few obscure local history tomes.

But one man had a vision. That man, Tomm Brady, saw history and decided to take it on himself to preserve it. Over two years of hard work and the mill is coming alive again; one nail, one board and one paintbrush at at time.

But for some reason, you-the vandals, decided to take it on yourself and set back the accomplishments a bit. No creativeness here fellows, just mindlessness. Did you laugh as you turned over five gallons of paint on the finely refinished floor? Did you cough up a chuckle as you spray painted "vulgar and racial slurs all over the walls?" Did this make you feel like a man?

Whatever your emotions were as you criminally violated what was not yours, the next question is what are you to do next? It seems you have misplaced and misdirected hated. Do you continue on the same path and create havoc upon others that you most likely don't even know? Was this a one shot deal you now regret and will never repeat?

Racial slurs all over the walls? This is Cannon County where the population is around 98% white and real racial strife is virtually unknown. A trend among some of the youth here is to perpetuate forms of racism that they have never even experienced except through the misguided words of acquaintances and the manipulations of the media. Vandalism and racism. I guess historically these two have walked hand in hand and in a sick way, you-the vandals, are also a part of historical preservation; one that is diseased and rotting .

Maybe one day you will grow up. We hope so. We're a forgiving society and if you can get past the indiscretions, misdeeds and vile actions of your youth, we will welcome you back. If not, perhaps during one of your future stints in jail, you can check out and read a few books including some local ones that tell the fascinating history of Readyville Mill and Cannon County. You'll have plenty of time on your hands.



Vandals Hit Readyville Mill

MILL VANDALIZED -- A five gallon bucket of paint turned over on the Readyville Mill floor was only part of the damage vandals caused during a break-in last weekend. Extensive damage was done in the ice house portion of the property.


Vandals broke into the Readyville Mill last weekend and destroyed hours of work that Mill owner
Tomm Brady had put in trying to restore the historic site.

"I'm just sick and even cried when I walked in and saw the damage," said Brady as he showed the
destruction caused by the vandals.

"I worked here last Sunday and left about I :00 P.M. and was called by Mary Reed that the damage had
been done," said Brady.

Mary Reed, co-owner of Russell's Market, which sits in front of the Mill property, saw an open door
Monday evening about 7:00 P.M.

"I Usually walk in the afternoon and I noticed the open door to the Yce House but I thought Tomm had
forgot to shut it when he left," Reed said.

The old ice house was the area where the vandals spray painted Vulgar and racial slurs all over the
walls and turned over a five gallon bucket of paint on the refinished floors.

Brady, who was visibly upset, during the tour of the damaged building" has been restoring the old
mill for over two years by himself.

The Mill is on the National Historic Register.

Each day he drives over from Shelbyville to tackle another project at the Mill and has made dramatic
changes since the work began two years ago when Brady and his wife purchased the mill and surrounding
property which includes the dam across the road, totaling about five acres.

Cannon County Sheriff Billy Nichols and Deputy Aaron Hillis saw first hand the damage and gave Brady some consolation. "I will have my deputies do extra patrol in this area starting tonight,"said Sheriff Nichols.

Brady stated that he has had trouble when youths parking on his property and going to the river to swim.

"I have tried to be nice to these people, but you can go down to the swimming area and see the trash of beer cans, needles and other items they leave behind," said Brady. "I think I can sand out most of the spray paint graffiti on the walls but it will take some time and a lot of work."

Sheriff Nichols warned several swimmers who were in the area Monday during the investigation that the Mill area was private property and citations would be written to those violating the No Trespassing signs posted on the property.

"Mr. Brady has done a tremendous amount of work here in restoring the Mill and it is a shame to see the damage caused by a few people who had nothing better to do," said Sheriff Nichols.

Investigators Vance Walker and Charlie Wilder inspected the room that suffered the most damage and found fingerprints and collected other evidence that will hopefully lead to an arrest.

The Cannon County Historical Society was scheduled to meet at the Mill on Monday evening, May 19 for their quarterly meeting.

"The meeting will be held but I just won't be able to let everyone see all the building," said Brady. "I don't want those folks to see the terrible writing that was painted on the walls."

The Sheriff's Department is asking for help from citizens in the community. "If anyone remembers seeing anything over the weekend, a parked car or recognized someone in the area please call us. The tip will remain anonymous and it might lead us to the suspects," said Sheriff Nichols.

The new number at the Jail is 563-1000 and ask for Investigators Charlie Wilder or Vance Walker.

Brady is a gifted craftsman. He has done all the work himself, putting up paneling, rebuilding stone walls, mechanical, carpentry, painting and electrical and the list goes on and on.

The Mill actually ceased production in the early 1980s and one can imagine the state of disrepair the building became just sitting there with no daily maintenance.

The early history of the Mill dates back to 1878 when Charles Ready, the original owner died and the Mill was purchased by Robert Carter from Charles' son in law, Peter Talley.

Over the course of over 100 years the Mill changed hands several times. During those years theReadyville Mill provided corn meal, flour, lumber, ice, electricity and a machine shop to residents from Cannon and Rutherford counties.

In 1935 Leslie and George Justice purchased the Mill and installed turbines and replaced the grinding stones with steel rollers to produce the flour.

Brady stated when he purchased the Mill that it was basically "something to keep him busy" and it has for over two years.

Future plans even include the opening of a restaurant on the property. The possibilities go on and on as does Tomm's love of the Mill.

Source: The Cannon Courier, 5-27-08


Videos of Readyville Mill 2008

Readyville Mill - Cannon County TN

Inside Readyville Mill

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